Thursday, June 24, 2004

Drums, Bugles, and Father's Day

Photo by Johnny Gilbert

This past Sunday (Father's Day) the family went out to DeKalb, Illinois to see a DCI drum corps show. If you have never seen a drum & bugle corps competition, you haven't lived. They are truly one of the most amazing live spectacles I've ever seen, but they are little known or appreciated by those outside of the drum corps universe.

A drum & bugle corps is what it's name implies: a band made up entirely of bugles (of all shapes & sizes...some as big as tubas!) and drums. There is also a colour guard that handles flags, rifles, swords, and various other non-musical duties.

And of course, they march as they play. But the "marching" that they do is way beyond any marching band you've ever seen. They are FAST, constantly changing positions across a football field, and playing the whole time they march in fast frenzy. There are all types of formations, and rarely, if ever do they stand in the same spot for more than a few seconds. It is a very fast & fluid performance.

All summer long, all across the United States & Canada, there are drum corps shows in various football stadiums, with all the corps competing to be the best drum corps in North America.

At the DeKalb show, the local favorite, Cavaliers, won the competition. But my sister and I really enjoyed the show put on by the Bluecoats, who came in third place.

Monday, June 21, 2004

When Heaven Invades Earth

Bill Johnson is the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. He is also one of my spiritual heroes. He recently published a book entitled When Heaven Invades Earth about his pursuit of a life and ministry of miracles. Johnson gets results: people are healed, prophecies are given, lives are changed for the better. How he does it is explained in the pages of his book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a life of miracles.

While reading his book the other day, I came across a passage that seems to be the crux of everything he writes about. Here Johnson tells us in simple language what it takes to see signs & wonders in the life of a Christian:
Biblical passion is a mysterious mixture of humility, supernatural hunger, and faith. I pursue because I have been pursued. Lethargy must not be found in me. And if the average Christian life around me falls short of the biblical standard, I must pursue against the grain. If people are not being healed, I will not supply a rationale so that those around me remain comfortable with the void. Instead, I will pursue the healing until it comes or the individual goes to be with the Lord. I will not lower the standard of the Bible to my level of experience.

Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. To accept any other standard is to bring the Bible down to our level of experience, and deny the nature of the One who changes not.
Very powerful, and very accurate words from a man who sees great miracles on a regular basis! If we wish to see miracles in our own life, then we need to have the same attitude as that of Bill Johnson.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Wisdom of Ronald Reagan

Looking back through my 2003 journal entries, I found this interesting proverb attributed to Ronald Reagan:
I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.
Simple, but profound. It's so easy to be passive, to believe everything is predetermined by the hand of God and we can't do anything about it (thank you, John Calvin...) The genius of Ronald Reagan, and any other great leader in history; whether political, religious, or military; is their steadfast unwillingness to accept the status quo.

So should it be for those of us who are in Christ. Relying on your "election" by the sovereign hand of God does not mean you can now sit back and enjoy life as it passes by. Rather, Christianity is the ultimate activism, but strangely unpolitical in nature. Yet here in the United States, everyone is a politician, like it or not, and we have a duty not only to ourselves, but to our nation, to vote and support those who value life, liberty, and morality. There can be no pursuit of happiness without virtue. It was another sage in another time who perhaps came up with the best single, succint definition for happiness that I have yet encountered:
Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Nobody expects the Spanish be so humane....

An article by Thomas Madden on the National Review Online website all but destroys the myth of the "Spanish Inquistion" and the associated horrible attrocities of the Catholic Church. The truth: the Spanish Inquistion was the most humane and decent court in midieval Europe! So how did it get such an evil reputation? Propaganda. Specifically, propaganda published by the newly emergent Protestants! But don't take my word for it, read the article for yourself:
Thomas F. Madden on the Inquisition on National Review Online

Monday, June 14, 2004


I've been reading the George Leonard book entitled Mastery. Leonard is a black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, a former B-25 pilot during WW2, and a jazz pianist. I understand that he also has an interest eastern religions, in particular Zen Buddhism.

So what lessons could a Christian learn from reading his book? There are many: Leonard's main thesis is what it takes to master something. It doesn't really matter what that something is, the process is pretty much the same. If I could sum up the "big lesson" of his book in one word, that word would be perseverance.

But there are other important lessons as well. Here is a quote from his book that one could easily apply to ministry:
A human being is the kind of machine that wears out from lack of use. There are limits, of course, and we do need healthful rest and relaxation, but for the most part we gain energy by using energy. Often the best remedy for physical weariness is thirty minutes of aerobic excercise. In the same way, mental and spiritual lassitude is often cured by decisive action or the clear intention to act. We learn in high school physics that kinetic energy is measured in terms of motion. The same thing is true of human energy: it comes into existence through use. You can't hoard it. As Frederich S. (Fritz) Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, used to say, "I don't want to be saved, I want to be spent."

George Leonard. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Plume: New York, 1991.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

God and my new Buck Knife

While at the local Wal-Mart, I stopped by the sporting goods department taking a good, long look at various hunting/camping knives. I wanted a new, inexpensive fixed-blade knife with a rubberized grip. I've always owned folding-blade knives, but they can be a pain to use, especially if they don't have a locking mechanism: none of my folding- blades have one.

To my great delight, Wal-Mart had a close-out on a Buck "Diamondback" knife with a rubberized grip. And the price was right: a mere $15.

But even more delightful was a little message from Chuck Buck (chairman of Buck Knives) enclosed within the warranty card:
If you are a new Buck knife owner, "welcome aboard." You are now part of a very large family. Although we're talking about a few million people, we still like to think of each one of our users as a member of the Buck Knives Family and take a personal interest in the product that was bought. With normal use, you should never have to buy another.

Now that you are family, you might like to know a little more about our organization. The fantastic growth of Buck Knives was no accident. From the beginning, management determined to make God the Senior Partner. In a crisis, the problem was turned over to Him, and He hasn't failed to help us with the answer. Each product must reflect the integrity of management, including our Senior Partner. If sometimes we fail on our end, because we are human, we find it imperative to do our utmost to make it right. Of course, to us, besides being Senior Partner, He is our Heavenly Father also; and it's a great blessing to us to have this security in these troubled times. If any of you are troubled or perplexed and looking for answers, may we invite you to look to Him, for God loves you.

"For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son; that whoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John: 3:16

Seeds for the Harvest

My good friends Tim and Karen Mead are heading off to Russia tomorrow. They have a ministry, Seeds for the Harvest that brings the gospel to orphans in the city of Ivanovo, a ministry that they pursue with a love worthy of Christ himself. They will be staying for only two weeks, but eventually they will be heading off to Russia, never to come back to the USA (except for a vacation!)

When I think about the death of Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and now my good friends going off to minister amongst the people of a former enemy of the United States, I am amazed at how quickly things can change in this world! In World War 2, we invaded France to help take some of the pressure off our Russian allies, who were advancing against the Germans on the Eastern front. Soon after the war, the Russians became our most bitter enemy, as they pursued a policy of enslavement of peoples around the world, and did so with a system that was openly hostile to the advancement of Christianity. Ronald Reagan will forever be known as the the one president who refused to back down to the Soviet threat, and did everything he knew how to strengthen America in every way that it could possibly be strengthened: morally, militarily, and economically.

Due the constant economic and military pressure, it was the Soviets who eventually folded up an went away, just a couple of years after Reagan left office, and George Bush 'the elder' took over.

Now Tim and Karen are going off to the former enemy of ours, and doing what they can to spread the love and compassion of Jesus amongst those children who have little more than bread to eat and a place to sleep at night.

Please visit their web site, for more information about their ministry. And do prayerfully consider sending them a few dollars, as they do the best they can to buy provisions for the orphans while there in Russia. (Due to outrageous shipping charges and the Russian mafia, sending things to Russia from the USA is nearly impossible.) I cannot help but praise the LORD that a ministry like theirs can even exist.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Sunday, June 6th was the 60th anniversary of one of the most memorable battles of World War 2: the invasion of Normandy, France; otherwise simply known as "D-Day."

German generals knew if the invasion succeeded, the war was over. The German army had it's hands full with Russia, and was being pushed backed by a series of powerful Russian advances. Having to cope with the Russian army on one side, and the the combined armies of UK, France, and the United States on the other, would tax the German war machine to the breaking point.

Not many Christians understand the parallels between the D-Day of June 6th, 1944, and that of the crucifixion of Christ.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Chirst, and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit, represents a spiritual "D-Day" in the history of the world. It was the death and resurrection of Jesus that broke the power of the devil, and put him on notice that his kingdom was at an end. But here we are nearly 2,000 years after the fact, and it seems as if the evil one is in the driver's seat, and the return of Christ to earth to claim his bride is a promise that will go unfulfilled.

Yet as Christians, we can take comfort in the fact that we getting much closer to 'VE-Day' (Victory in Europe) as we move further away from 'D-Day.' The devil did not give up, roll over and die just because Jesus died on the cross. If anything, he will fight even harder and more diligently as he feels the end growing closer...

This was so even during World War 2. Both on the European and Pacific fronts, the war became much more fierce and harder fought as the Allies came closer to ultimate victory. The worst battles in the Pacific campaign were amongst the very last, especially the battles of Iwo Jima and Okninawa. And before final victory in Europe, the Allies were taken by surprise at the "Battle of the Bulge" where a German offensive broke through Allied lines and threatened to undo the momentum of the invasion. Some of the greatest bloodshed came at the very end of the war, not to mention the fire-bombing of Dresden (100,000+ dead civilians in one night) and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Just as the fighting became more intense towards the end of World War 2, so too should we expect some of the most horrible fighting between the forces of light and darkness will occur right before the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible clearly warns us that it will be so.

Sadly, many have been decieved by the false doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, made so very fashionable by the "Left Behind" books. Many people wrongly believe that God will remove "the church" from the earth before the worst of satan's schemes come to pass. Wherever this doctrine had it's origin, it certainly wasn't from the pages of the Bible. Jesus and the apostles clearly warn us that the antichrist must come first, then the great tribulation, then the return of Christ to earth, and then finally we have the rapture of those in Christ who are still alive at his coming. (Matthew 24, Mark 13)

This means the body of Christ needs to be prepared for some tremendous times of darkness still to come. This darkness will not be able to overtake the light, for that is simply impossible. But it will certainly try. Ultimately the LORD will triumph over the forces of darkness, of this we can be sure.

Our responsibility is to continue the offensive that began so long ago, and to keep moving forward until the LORD comes back to earth. The weapons of our warfare are the Word of Truth, our testimony, the Holy Spirit, and most importantly: the love of God.

It is not for us to fear the plans of the enemy, because his time is very, very short. Rather, we need to be concerned with the advancement of the Kingdom, and make sure that we do all we can to encourage each other to keep up the good fight!

Ronald Reagan

On Saturday, June 5th, the greatest American President of my lifetime passed away at the age of 93. Ronald Reagan did a tremendous job speaking life into a nation that was filled with self-doubt and hand wringing. He was a man of words and action, not afraid to take a stand against those he felt were the cause of evil. His hatred of communism is legendary, but it was never an extreme, dark hatred. Rather, it was the kind of hatred we could use a lot more of: the hatred of lies, deception, and of those who would keep people in bondage.

A little known fact about President Reagan was his deep, abiding faith in God. Here is a statement issued by Billy Graham upon learning of the death of the former President:

Ronald Reagan was one of my closest personal friends for many years. Ruth and I spent a number of nights at the White House and had hundreds of hours of conversation with the President and First Lady.

Mr. Reagan had a religious faith deeper than most people knew. Nancy is one of the strongest and most dedicated women I have ever known. She and the children have my love and prayers.

The President was a man of tremendous integrity, based on his religious belief. I visited him and Nancy on numerous occasions in recent years and always had prayer with them. Though her husband was unable to communicate at times, Nancy would say, "When you prayed, I think he knew you were here."

The love between Ronald and Nancy Reagan was an example to the nation. No man ever had a more loyal and loving wife and no children ever had a more loving and faithful mother than Nancy.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

A Muslim's Heart

While serfin' the 'net, found what could be a very interesting book published by the Navigators:

A Muslim's Heart

"Muslims are not the enemy. They are simply people. People who need Christ. But they're also people who see the world much differently than Western Christians.

A Muslim's Heart provides Christians with a crash course in relating to their Muslim friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Without understanding the way a Muslim thinks and feels, and the cultural reasons for this, any attempts at evangelism will target the mind without engaging the heart. Geared for Christians who are attempting to relate to Muslims overseas or in their own neighborhood, this book offers practical, field-tested instruction for reaching a Muslim's heart with the hope of Christ."

Friday, June 04, 2004

Re: Musings on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit

The following is an e-mail I recently received from my on-line friend Jean. I'm posting it here on the Theodicy blog, because her words about happiness and transformation are right on the mark.

In the near future I will be posting a link to Jacob Needleman's book, A Sense of the Cosmos, in the "Book" sidebar which you can find on the righthand side of the screen.

Hello Ron!

Thank you for your kind words. I really thought your observations about prayer as active listening were right on the mark!

I finished reading Needleman's A Sense of the Cosmos the other day, and thought it was wonderful. In fact, I liked it so much I sent a copy to my astrophysicist friend in Budapest, and he loved it! Thanks for the great recommendation, Ron.

Needleman got into a discussion about happiness that I've been thinking over. When you boil it all down, every human person makes a choice of life orientation. There are really only two choices: happiness, or transformation. I got to thinking that happiness can never be a goal in itself, for happiness is always a by-product of something else. So if one fixes one's intent on making "happiness" a direct goal, this is really an exercise in futility; for "the goal post will ever keep on moving." Thus one will never be happy: The goal is ever beyond our grasp.

Transformation is the complete opposite. For it can be a direct goal, with the help of the Holy Spirit -- via prayerful invocation, listening prayer, meditation and contemplation. Interestingly enough, transformation is the only route to true happiness; for there is no genuine human happiness or self-realization outside of the Holy Spirit, which brings us to our Lord Jesus Christ and unites us with Him in Spirit.

Just some thoughts that have occurred to me recently, partly under the influence of your beautiful essay on the Holy Spirit.

Don't be too much of a stranger, Ron -- you'll be missed! Have a wonderful summer -- but please do look in on us every now and then.

In the peace and love of Christ,


The "essay" Jean is refering to is my article Twelve Theses of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Memorial Day

This past Monday, Americans paid tribute to those in the Armed Forces who have fallen in the line of duty. It is a day of rememberance, marked by speeches, parades, and trips to the cemetary.

Well, at least that's the way it was when I was a kid. Now, they only thing that is remembered on Memorial Day is the grilling of hot dogs and hamburgers. Some might watch the president give a speech from Arlington Cemetary in Washington on the TV, but that's about as close to a cemetary as they will get. Not that one has to be at a cemetary to remember those who have died in service to our country, but the endless rows of stone monumuments certainly helps one realize the common end we all share: death.

As Christians, we are no longer are bound to the fear of death, at least in theory...

We believe that the dead don't stay that way. Either they will be resurrected to live with Jesus forever, or they will experience the "second death" and be sent to "live with Satan, where they can share the common experience and sensation of being burned alive in a lake of fire for all eternity.

Americans don't like to be reminded about death, whether they are Christians or not. It makes us very uncomfortable. It's not a happy thought, death, not something that we have any control over, not something we can do anything about. So, by mutual agreement, we don't talk about it. What's there to say?

In a society like ours, death happens behind closed doors. It takes place in a bedroom or hospital room. The display of the dead body is always in a funeral home. Unless you live in a really bad neighborhood, or work in hospital, you can go through life here in the USA without ever having to see anyone die! And when you do see a dead body, it's nicely prepared, fixed-up, dressed-up, and displayed in a coffin like a work of art. We have taken death and have sterlized it to the point of disappearance.

Yet when Jesus died on the cross, it was in the open, in public, on display for all who cared to watch. Part of the genious of God is Christ's public display of dying! Why did it need to happen in the open? So no one would doubt his death. But when he rose from the dead, he did not go back to Jerusalem and pick-up where he left off with his tearching and miracles. Rather, he only allowed himself to be seen by a few hundred witnesses. That too is genius. Jesus goes out of his way to let us know he died, but keeps his resurrection as a secret amongst a few trusted souls. Why do this? Why not make the resurrection as public as the death? Well, Jesus does not wish for anyone to believe in him by accident.

You don't have to believe in the resurrection if you don't want to. Jesus allows you that option. But remember this: if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, than neither will we.

Perhaps it's time for us to give death more serious consideration then we have been. We have nothing to fear from it, if we are in Christ. But for those who are not in Christ, it will be a very, very, unpleasant experience.